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Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... Did you write it yourself?’ That is the first question any visiting journo asks Howard Marks about his autobiography, Mr Nice. Marks suppresses a yawn. The morning is not really his time. He’s in the middle of a promotional binge, late nights, dry-throat blather; the anecdotes on autopilot ...


Duncan Campbell, 19 October 1995

The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... book has coincided with the death of Ron Kray and the release from a 20-year jail sentence of Howard Marks, the Oxford graduate cannabis smuggler, now also at work on his memoirs. So here we have Britain’s best-known gangster (or half of him), the perpetrator of the best-known robbery, and the best-known drug smuggler all back in the public ...

X marks the snob

W.G. Runciman, 17 May 1984

Caste MarksStyle and Status in the USA 
by Paul Fussell.
Heinemann, 202 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 9780434275007
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... fields of battle. Nor is Fussell very convincing about what he calls ‘Prole Drift’ – the ‘Howard Johnsonisation’ which is turning the wine of American life into Gatorade. Was it not ever thus? If Fussell thinks it’s all getting worse and worse, when does he think was the Golden Age in which America wasn’t, by the standards of a Donald T. Reagan ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... on a rosy apocalyptic glow. These are not the uncorseted, feelgood ramblings of Sixties survivors (Howard Marks, Richard Neville et al), but the in-your-face, out-of-your-skull, trust-nobody, swallow-anything limbo that acted, it has become clear, as a curtain-raiser to the free-market excesses that were to follow. Punk auditioned the dark night of Keith ...

Whose Bodies?

Elizabeth Lowry: ‘Tinkers’, 23 September 2010

by Paul Harding.
Heinemann, 191 pp., £12.99, July 2010, 978 0 434 02084 3
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... the last week of his life he begins to hallucinate about his childhood in rural Maine. His father, Howard, was a travelling salesman and odd-job man until he abandoned his family one day in 1927. George, who has never understood the reasons for his father’s desertion, has led a conventionally contented life marred by a sense of loss. Tinkers is less ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Howard Hodgkin, 6 July 2006

... cherries which they swallow whole. It is late on a warm afternoon. We watch the birds. The titles Howard Hodgkin gives his pictures – In a Hot Country, In a Crowded Room, Waking up in Naples, Fisherman’s Cove, In Raimund Stecker’s Garden, Come into the Garden, Maud – record their beginnings in feelings and facts specific to a time and place. They ...

In the Studio

Rye Dag Holmboe: Howard Hodgkin, 3 June 2021

... Each​ time I walk into Howard Hodgkin’s studio it takes a few seconds for my eyes to get used to the light. The white walls and translucent glass ceiling give the studio the same ‘glancing, slightly dematerialised’ quality Hodgkin said he sought in his paintings. In an interview a few years before his death in 2017, he described the light in the studio as like an envelope ...

Pour a stiff drink

Tessa Hadley: Elizabeth Jane Howard, 6 February 2014

All Change 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Mantle, 573 pp., £18.99, November 2013, 978 0 230 74307 6
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... Elizabeth Jane Howard had been a novelist for forty years before she published The Light Years, the first volume of the Cazalet chronicles, in 1990. The fifth and final volume, All Change, was published in 2013, and she died in January this year, aged ninety. Her stepson Martin Amis advised her to embark on the Cazalet books, when she was hesitating between possibilities ...

Over the Top

Michael Howard, 8 February 1996

A Genius for War: A Life of General George Patton 
by Carlo D’Este.
HarperCollins, 977 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 00 215882 5
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... have always taken great pains to cultivate. It was one on which Patton would have scored very low marks indeed, but he made up for it in other directions. Like his rival Montgomery he knew that he had to command, not regular professional forces, but conscripts who would be scared stiff in action and whose first instinct would be to skulk, if not run away. In ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean, 3 July 2008

... book on the film, it is the awkwardness of the main characters, played by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, their touching, strangling inability either to deny their feelings or fully act on them, that makes them so compelling. This is not the luminous, high-temperature romance of the Italian movie, and neither Johnson nor ...


Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... moving over the surface of the earth.’ The arrival of Reg restores him to life’s imperfection. Howard Baker, the Swiftian hero of Sweet Dreams, is more fortunate, transported from the Highgate traffic to Heaven, a ‘golden land of opportunity’ and ‘a society so complex that everyone in it is winning the race’. The ideal metropolis reveals its wonder ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1986, 18 December 1986

... Royal Court re Kafka’s Dick, now put off until September. Their next play is an adaptation by Howard Barker of Women beware women, and the production after that The Normal Heart, an American play about Aids. This is referred to at the theatre as ‘Men beware men’. New York, 14 February. Lunch with S. at the Harvard Club. Grander (or certainly ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Michael Andrews, 9 August 2001

... remnants of construction lines serve a double purpose: they are a necessary scaffolding, but also marks which demonstrate effort, in Andrews’s case that which has gone into transferring the details of an intermediate image – a postcard or photograph – to canvas. Like the hallmark on a piece of silver, they can work only if they interfere with the ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... have been published at all had it not been for the intercession of the poet and translator Richard Howard, who was introduced to White by a friend who had met Howard at a West Village pick-up bar. Howard liked White’s manuscript, suggested revisions and eventually persuaded Random House ...

Seating Arrangements at the Table of World Morality

Simon Chesterman: The guilt of nations, 19 October 2000

The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices 
by Elazar Barkan.
Norton, 414 pp., £21, September 2000, 0 393 04886 1
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... and non-indigenous populations should include a formal apology for past injustices. John Howard, who became Prime Minister in 1996, has repeatedly rejected what he regards as an over-apologetic tendency, epitomised by certain policies of the previous Labor Government, and by references in the Australian High Court’s Mabo judgment, which recognised ...

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